Six Tips for Better Email Marketing

by | Sales and marketing

Email marketing is not just for large companies with huge staffs full of marketing types. Even small, growing companies can benefit from the convenience and quick response times afforded by a well-planned email campaign.

There are many opportunities for leveraging the Internet to promote your company. Social media platforms in particular, are getting a lot of attention lately. Still, email can be a steady, predictable, cornerstone of whatever plan you put together.

Benefits of Email Marketing

  • Easy set-up. “Cloud-based” email services like Constant Contact and Vertical Response offer inexpensive (as little as $15 a month) turnkey services. They provide templates, simple uploading of your customer lists, tracking, statistics, analytics, and on-going customer support.
  • Very low costs and high return on investment. Compared to direct mail, print advertising, and other media, email provides an inexpensive way of communicating with your target audience.
  • High return on investment. This is tied to a program’s low costs. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email returned $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009.
  • Speed. Campaigns can be implemented very soon after they are developed – sometimes the same day.
  • Better customer relations. Customers can receive messages on a regular, scheduled basis. Product or service offerings can be combined with useful information in a newsletter format.
  • Multiplier effect”. Your information can be forwarded by your contacts to other potentially interested parties at no cost to you.
  • Measurable results. Immediate gratification-types take note: You can instantly determine who has opened your email, and track the action to visits to your website. If a campaign is falling flat (i.e., not generating traffic), you can adjust on the fly.

If it seems like email might work for your company, take the plunge. It’s a low-risk proposition. It’s flexible, encourages experimentation and creativity, and is even kind of fun. You’ll need to spend some time with your marketing and IT people to get started, or can find outside help if needed.

In any case, observe the following tips during the early going, and you’ll be fine.

  1. Build an attractive master template. “Build” might be overstating, since the pre-made templates available from email services do most of the work. But be sure to match colors, fonts, and basic layouts to those of your website. Use bullet points and headings to call attention to where you want it. Most importantly – use the same template every time you send something to your list. The familiarity will build trust and enhance your message’s chances of being read.
  2. Get your email opened! Sounds obvious, but if it’s not opened, the best offer or most important information in the world is useless. The subject line is the key. Keep it short – 5 to 8 words – but be sure to tell your recipient what’s in it for them. “Free Oil Change on St. Patrick’s Day!” “Three Ways Your Bank Rips You Off” “Six Tips for Better Email Marketing.”
  3. Provide attention-worthy content. Compelling offers or great deals are always a good idea, but information that helps a client run his business better is also appropriate, and can even set you apart from your competition. A white paper, a “How To” article, or even a sincere recommendation and a link to someone else’s information can position you as an authority or expert. To leverage your efforts, make sure “Forward to a Friend” buttons appear in the body of your message.
  4. Track and analyze. After every campaign, take a few minutes to review your responses. What percentage was opened? Did your website experience a significant bump in traffic? Did salespeople receive inquiries related to the campaign? Figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t will help you put together better campaigns in the future.
  5. Pace yourself. Don’t overwhelm your recipients. Expectations will vary by industry, but more than one communication per week is likely too much. If you notice that consistently fewer messages are opened than during earlier campaigns, you might be sending too often. One easy, full-proof strategy: Don’t send something until you really have something to say.
  6. Get permission. We’ll say it again. Get permission. Spamming is a fairly serious offense in the Internet age, so do unto others….
    There are two types of permission:
  • Implicit permission: You have a business relationship with the recipient. It’s okay to contact them, as a “reasonable person” would assume they might receive business-oriented information from you. Still, if you expect to include them in mass communications that are sent out to a broad list of contacts you need to receive their…
  • Explicit permission. This is when a person has taken certain, specific action to join your mailing list. This can occur at your website, when responding to a private email from you, or through various other channels.

One other thing about permission; it’s not a lifetime commitment. Every mass email you send has to give the recipient the chance to “opt-out” from future communications, in case your information is no longer relevant to them. Automated email services will provide this in every message sent out, and then update your list to reflect the change.

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